China has stopped blocking the Internet sites of several US-based newspapers for the current Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Shanghai, a foreign ministry official said Tuesday.
The websites included those for the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post.
Asked whether the blocks were lifted for the convenience of people attending APEC, the official told a foreign journalist: "You can think of it that way."
Websites for the two papers as well as the New York Times, Voice of America and Wall Street Journal were easily accessible via Chinese Internet connections Tuesday.
However, blocks on sites for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) as well as banned spiritual group Falungong and human rights groups appeared still in place.
The Chinese government stops access to many foreign websites and monitors the content of domestic sites for fear its citizens would be influenced by a free flow of information.
The government prefers Chinese residents get their news on domestic and international events only from state-controlled media, which almost always present the official position, leaving out alternative perspectives or controversial information.
Internet-savvy Chinese residents have been able to sidestep the Chinese firewall by using proxy servers and accessing sites through unblocked websites.
APEC will culminate this weekend in a major gathering of leaders from its 21 members, including US President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
China has taken great steps to make a success of APEC, the biggest such gathering of world figures ever hosted by the country.
It has greatly tightened security in Shanghai to avoid the poossibility of embarrassing episodes during the series of preparatory APEC meetings and the summit -- Beijing, (AFP)